Camping in October



Ever tried camping in October? While many people put their tents, folding chairs and camp cooking equipment into storage at the end of summer, savvy fans of outdoor breaks can find plenty of opportunities for camping well into the autumn months. Pitchup has a whole range of campsites that are still open in October or which reopen especially for October half term, so keep reading if you’re curious about how and where to go camping at this fantastic time of year.

Autumn colours like these are on display throughout October

October half term camping

Missed out on the chance to go camping this summer – or keen to squeeze in a couple more nights in a tent? Half term is an excellent opportunity to take the family somewhere new while the weather is still mild, allowing you to make the most of the autumn before the dark winter days set in. For the kids, it also means returning to the classroom with a spring in their step after a well-deserved break.

Half term dates will depend on where you are in the UK – Scottish schools typically give their pupils a week off earlier in the month of October, while in England and Wales the October half term tends to be towards the end of the month. Pupils in Northern Ireland tend to get less time off, but they generally get at least a couple of days of holiday halfway through the autumn term too. You can check the exact dates for October half term and all other school holidays in your local authority area on the UK Government website.

Many family-friendly sites are open throughout October, and there are so many reasons to go away at this special time of year. Throughout much of the country’s countryside, the blaze of autumn colours is at its best, making October forest getaways a very popular option. Add to that simple pleasures like an autumnal blackberry hunt or a traditional game of conkers and it’s easy to see why kids tend to be such big fans of October holidays. 

If your little ones appreciate structured activities to keep them occupied throughout half term, you might like to check out family holiday parks with amenities like kids’ clubs, play areas, watersports or other adventurous activities. 

At the other end of the spectrum, groups or couples travelling without kids who want somewhere a bit more low-key – or teachers who need an escape from term-time classroom antics – would do well to stick to our adults-only sites open in October.

Where to camp in October

Wherever you end up going, put a bit of thought into picking your pitch. Questions you should always ask yourself include: is it flat? Is it in a well-drained area? Is there any shelter around? Is it near a noisy road? 

Sometimes, the best place to camp will depend on the weather and will require you to make a judgment call. Looking rainy but not too windy? Head for higher ground to avoid waking up waterlogged. More wind than rain? The less high up you are, the better.

Check the wind direction when setting up your tent too – ideally, the back end should be facing into the wind, leaving the front end more sheltered.

Other criteria, like scenery or how near you want to be to the facilities, are a matter of personal preference.

Now you know how to pitch up, it’s time to start thinking about where to go. Fancy spending harvest time on a farm campsite? Itching to spend October at a holiday park near the beach? Keep reading for inspiration on the UK’s best regions for half term breaks and fab autumn foliage.

The New Forest 

One of the largest forested areas in England, the New Forest National Park is an excellent choice for crunchy woodland walks. It’s also a hub for cycling, which is always popular in the fresh autumn weather. Plenty of New Forest holiday parks are open during October too, so it won’t be hard to find somewhere to stay. 

New Forest campsites

New Forest ponies at sunset (Neil Cooper on Unsplash)

South West England

Head to the South West for autumn in cider country, with easy access to some of the UK’s most scenic coastline. Exmoor looks particularly pretty in autumn, while the Jurassic Coast’s beaches will be much quieter than at the height of the summer.

Camping in South West England

The Yorkshire Dales

Head to Fountains Abbey for bright berries, colourful mushrooms and crisp waterside walks, crunch through the woodlands above Skipton Castle or head up to Malham Cove in a jumper and mittens for panoramas full of reds, oranges and browns. 

Campsites in the Yorkshire Dales

Berries at Malham Cove (Dan Blackburn on Unsplash)

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park

Scotland is always a lot easier to explore when there are fewer midges from October onwards, which is particularly handy if you’re thinking of staying somewhere as watery as Loch Lomond. Take an autumnal boat trip from Balloch, zip through the falling leaves at Go Ape in Aberfoyle or head for a warming whisky at a local distillery for the full October experience. 

Campsites around Loch Lomond

The Dee Valley

Wales’ Dee Valley is gorgeous in the autumn months and has plenty of family-friendly things to do around October half term. Adventurous activities in Llangollen, colourful canal cruises around the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct or stomping through the grounds of Chirk Castle should keep them in high spirits. 

Dee Valley campsites

Autumn in the Dee Valley

County Fermanagh

Famous for its castles, loughs and waterways, County Fermanagh in the south of Northern Ireland has a special buzz about it in October. The Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail is a particularly scenic way to take in the local landscape, as are boat rides on Lough Erne or trips to the magnificent Cliffs of Magho. 

Camping in Northern Ireland

What to pack

October is usually an all-round mild month, with average levels of precipitation, generally cool temperatures and much lower levels of midges, mosquitos and other bugs than at the height of summer. That doesn’t mean you just turn up in flip flops and a t-shirt, though – as always with camping, how well-prepared you are for the weather will have a big impact on how much you get out of your time away. Pitchup’s team of seasoned campers recommend the following: 

A three-season tent or better. As the name suggests, three-season tents are designed for use in spring, summer and autumn, although bringing a slightly sturdier four-season tent is fine too. It’s probably best to avoid summer-style one or two-season tents like pop-ups or tents without a rain fly (the waterproof layer that sits on top of the inner tent to protect you from the elements), as autumn can bring spells of wind, rain and hail.

A three-season sleeping bag or better. As with your tent, one or two-season models will probably be too lightweight for use this far into the autumn. Three-season sleeping bags are a good versatile option, allowing you to camp throughout most of the year without feeling like you’re on an expedition to the Arctic. 

Hats, gloves, scarves and woolly socks. Useful inside and outside of the tent, woollies and warm accessories to cover your extremities will help keep you warm and toasty on cooler days and nights. Mittens are also a good option, as they allow your individual fingers to heat each other up, but they might not be suitable for October camping if you need nimble fingers to pitch a tent, cook or ride a bike. 

Waterproofs, including waterproof trousers if you’re planning lots of long walks. Not used your rainy day gear in a while? Reproof your waterproofs with a wash-in product in the washing machine at least once a year to keep them in tip-top condition for when you get caught out in the wet. 

Sun cream. Although UV levels tend to be lower in Autumn, staying outdoors all day can potentially expose your skin to sunburn at any time of year. 

Insect repellent. As with sun cream, you may not find that you need this. Better safe than sorry, though – especially if you are staying near a body of water like a slow-flowing river or a lake. 

Matches, lighters and firelighters. Autumn is an excellent time of year for a campfire, and there’s often a lot of recently fallen dead wood around. Don’t assume you can forage for fuel on the forest floor, though – some campsites ask that you bring your own firewood from home or buy it directly once on site. Oh, and chuck a bag of marshmallows in the boot while you’re at it.

Plastic bags to separate your clean clothes from your dirty, muddy or marshmallow-stained gear…

String, scissors and a drill for endless games of conkers.

A pumpkin-carving kit and tealights if you’re heading away during the Halloween period.

Pack a pumpkin-carving kit if heading away during spooky season (Aaron Burden on Unsplash)

Top tips for camping in October

Once you’ve assembled your gear, it’s time to start thinking about how to make your October camping trip as easy and enjoyable as possible. We’ve assembled a few practical tips to help you get off to a good start.

Test your tent before you go, especially if you haven’t used it for a while.Giving your tent a quick MOT by setting it up in the garden and checking for any tears or holes (which can usually be quickly fixed with a bit of duct tape) is well worth the extra planning.

Wrap up warm and eat good food. Autumn camping isn’t the time for a fashion show, or to start worrying about your waistline. You’ll be burning a lot more calories than usual when you’re out in the fresh air all day and will need to keep warm, so bring some chunky jumpers, lots of breathable layers and fill up on plenty of starchy, fatty and hearty foods. 
Plan to cook easy or one-pot dishes. October may be a good month to go away, but unless you really hit the jackpot with the weather it’s not quite warm enough to be preparing big barbecue lunches with salads on the side. Stews, curries and jacket potatoes in foil are all much better bets. 

Find a fab farm shop and pick up the freshest autumn produce for you and your family. October is harvest time, so there’ll be lots of colourful seasonal fruit and veg to choose from. Forget supermarkets if you’re looking for truly monster-sized pumpkins – you’re much more likely to find oversized produce in your local farm shop or market. 

Watch the weather. Hill and mountain walks (or any prolonged outdoor activity, for that matter) just won’t be possible or appealing on some days in autumn, so it’s best to plan ahead. Use the Met Office’s rainfall radar to stay one step ahead of wet weather. 

Scout out indoor activities for when the weather isn’t quite what you’d hoped for. Spontaneous trips to museums, paint-a-pot studios, soft play centres, escape rooms or bowling alleys can really turn a dreary day around. 

Find your October camping break

While October is generally quieter than the height of summer, half term can fill up fast, so book a pitch a few weeks before to avoid disappointment. Don’t forget that dogs love autumn too, so make sure to book a pet-friendly pitch if you’re travelling with your four-legged friend (use the ‘dogs allowed’ filter when searching to make sure). Get browsing and use the calendar to select your dates to find sites with availability.


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